There is a spot of good news in the patent lawsuit landscape, it seems Apple and Samsung have both significantly reduced the number of patent claims they have pending against each other.
Apple began the trend by cutting the number of claims they had against Samsung in half (from 8 down to 4) on Monday, which was a move reciprocated by Samsung only 5 hours later as they dropped 5 of the 12 asserted patents.
Even if it hadn’t been ordered by Judge Lucy Koh last week, Samsung should be greatful given that it isn’t an actual defence for the company to say: “We couldn’t possibly have copied Apple, because we haven’t been anywhere near as successful with their products as they have been!”
But I digress.
The reason for the Koh’s order is almost an entertaining one. Not only did she feel that it was unacceptable to try and negotiate around the multitude of patents and products involved but she indicated that it would be cruel and unusual punishment for a jury to have to hear all of those claims.
Not to worry, the two companies still have a bone (or two) to pick with each other and remain “strongly at odds”. While Apple feels Samsung is not cooperative, Samsung feels Apple’s case has grown too large for trial anytime soon.
Apple’s primary concern is that Samsung has built a mobile business off a series of copycat products that closely mimic their designs. Samsung’s response is to say that their devices are entirely innovative and “independently developed technologies”. I’m certainly not a patent lawyer but even my three year old daughter can see that a visual comparison between photographs of the devices (even down to the accessories Samsung has made for their smartphones and tablets) shows “matches.”
Samsung’s response to the claim is simply to state that they feel Apple is trying to compete with them through litigation instead of in the marketplace.
By contrast, Samsung is much more concerned with patents relating to the displaying of data and user interface designs as well as technologies that they have deemed essential to wireless 3G standards.
The exciting news as far as I am concerned is that with this paring down of the lawsuit means that the trial should be able to proceed in July as planned and we no longer have to watch this ridiculous tug-of-war between two companies that should be best friends and working cooperatively. Imagine for a moment (“it’s easy if you try”), a world where two of the most powerful technology companies harnessed their collective knowledge and manufacturing abilities and created products in unison.
It may be that Apple CEO, Tim Cook, said it best (while also indicating he would be happy to come to an arrangement outside of the courtroom if the settlement was fair and reasonable):
“I’ve always hated litigation and I continue to hate it, but we just want people to invent their own stuff… Apple does not [want to] become the developer for the world.”
If nothing else, Apple and Samsung could save a fortune on legal bills.